The introduction of semi-conductive materials like silicon has had a profound effect on just about every area of the economy. In the world of manufacturing, they are used to effect incredibly precise control of robotic limbs used on assembly lines. A vast range of silicon-based devices are available in the RS Components catalogue. But the role played by semiconductors in these settings is actually quite diverse. Let’s take a look a few of the applications of modern semiconductors when it comes to industrial robotics.
Measuring weight, light, sound, heat and moisture allows robots to be aware of the world around them. Industrial robots rely on this information when making precise adjustments to the force they’re applying, and to compensate for any vibration, noise and heat that may be found in a less-than-ideal factory or laboratory setting. Among the many advances in this field is the adoption of so-called ‘active sensors’, which seek to actually move in order to better capture what’s being recorded.
Advances in digital signal processing and machine-learning mean that organisations are better able to manage the movements of robots. With so much data available, having the computational resources to hand to crunch the numbers and act upon the results is more important than ever.
Moreover, robots are able to be more interdependent, receiving instructions from other robots, or from big-data cloud-storage solutions. WiFi has made this easier, and the rollout of wireless technologies like 5G will make it even more so. Manufacturers can cut the cost of bulky ethernet cables, while still retaining data security.
A field-programable gate array is unlike a traditional microcontroller. Rather than having a fixed architecture upon which to store programs, FPGAs come with a grid of identical logic modules, which can be literally connected as the manufacturer of a given machine sees fit. This allows for incredibly specialised, lightning-fast modules to be produced at relatively little cost. In settings where bespoke robots are being developed and used, it makes sense that these machines be powered by bespoke computer hardware – and now the technology exists to make it happen.
CMOS for Robot Motion Control
Robotics can be a very power-intensive activity, particularly if it’s not guided. Happily, research indicates that CMOS-powered solutions can vastly reduce the required size of the unit, along with its voltage requirements. This in turn allows for significant power savings over the long term.